Image courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Downstairs was a bridal shop. Upstairs was, as far as anyone can tell, a porn studio. Now it’s going to be four floors of protecting and suing for civil liberties on the Internet.

It actually already is, if you count the people who are sent over to work in the vacant building every time the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s current headquarters on Shotwell gets too crowded. The nonprofit legal organization has added six employees in the last two years, according to Rebecca Jeschke, who handles communications for EFF. The organization, which now has a staff of 33, has wanted to move for some time. When they saw 2567 Mission, they pounced. It sold to the group for $1.675 million.

“We really wanted to stay in the Mission,” says Jeschke. EFF, which started in Cambridge 20 years ago before moving to Washington, D.C., and then San Francisco. It has been in the Mission for six years now.

In that time, its focus has increasingly shifted to issues of privacy and the sale of third-party information on the Internet, especially with Facebook and Twitter, and the movement of data storage out of personal computers and into “the cloud,” a widely distributed network of data centers.

The organization has rented up until now but wanted to own its own building, even though that means launching a capital campaign during a recession. Jeschke estimates that it will be at least a year before they’re ready to move in.

Among the items that will not survive the renovations: the upstairs jacuzzi, which appears more for display than actual function. It is, along with the bed (custom-built and mysteriously tongue-shaped) and the shower (entirely transparent), a key player in suspicions held by certain EFF staff members that the upper levels, which were described to prospective buyers as a “film studio,” have a salacious history.

Whatever its past, the building’s future is in digital rights wonkery. At 2567, from here on out it looks to be all free speech and fair use of copyright and the Protect IP act, and knowing your rights with regards to digital searches by law enforcement.

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Heather Smith covers a beat that spans health, food, and the environment, as well as shootings, stabbings, various small fires, and shouting matches at public meetings. She is a 2007 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism and a contributor to the book Infinite City.

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